Cruise TipsPackingHow to Pack for Kids on a Cruise Without Going Overboard

How to Pack for Kids on a Cruise Without Going Overboard

If you’re going on a cruise with kids there are a few packing tips you’re going to want to follow.  In this article we get into the nitty-gritty and reveal the best ways to pack for a cruise when little ones are tagging along.

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Packing for kids on a cruise: what to bring

Packing for a cruise vacation is an exciting and essential part of the process. Once you arrive at the “packing stage”, you know your vacation is almost here and the countdown may be in the single digits.

If you have kids traveling with you, special care must be taken when packing for them. They need additional items that adults may not need to take for themselves. Feel free to use the guide we have compiled below for a less stressful experience traveling with your kids.

Pack an Adequate Amount of Clothing

When packing for your kids, they will need a variety of clothing, just like yourself. We have prepared a suggested list below. This list will need to be personalized for your own family, length of cruise, destinations, and preferences.

  • At least 1 top per day, preferably 2
  • 3-5 bottoms
  • 2 swimsuits or swim trunks
  • 3-4 pairs of dress pants for dinner
  • 3-4 dresses for dinner
  • Additional formal attire, if desired
  • 2 Sets of pajamas
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Athletic Shoes
  • Flip Flops or Sandals
  • Sun hat or baseball hat

Of course, this list can be shortened or lengthened. If you plan to utilize the laundry service on the ship, you can definitely cut down on the amount of clothing your child will need.

Keep in mind that accidents happen and back-up clothing is essential. Remember to pack an additional change of clothing in your beach back for shore excursions.

Related:  10 tips for packing light on a cruise


Toiletries for Kids

Toiletry bag for kids on a cruise

It may sound silly but, be sure to pack toiletries for your kids. In fact, it’s a great idea to pack their toiletries separately into their own bag. This will give them a sense of responsibility (if they are old enough) and it will help to keep everything organized.

Make sure to pack their own toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, brush, and any needed bath/shower supplies.

If your children are still in diapers, pack enough for your entire vacation. You might even double what you think you will need.  Wipes will come in very handy for kids of all ages. More about that later.


Electronics Can be a Good Idea

While your children may spend a large amount of time in the kids clubs onboard, they will need activities to keep them occupied at other times.

Consider allowing them to take a portable gaming system like a Nintendo Switch for hand-held play. This is a great option for later in the evenings, after retiring to your cabin before bed or during sea days.


Gear for the Sun

Sun screen and beach toys for kids

If you are cruising to a tropical location, be sure to pack plenty of gear for the sun. First of all, pack a few different swimsuits for the week. For younger kids, rash guards are helpful with their very sensitive skin.

Consider taking a few beach toys in your luggage. Kids love playing with toys and inflatables at a sandy beach excursion, and it will make for a great beach day with the family.

It’s always a good idea to take more sunscreen that you think you will need. Consider taking spray, lotion, and chapstick in a variety of strengths.


Essential Medications and First Aid

If your child is required to take special, prescription medications, be sure to have an adequate supply packed for your trip. Consider taking extra, in the unlikely event that your trip itinerary changes. Some medications may be available to purchase onboard, but it’s best to not risk it.

First aid and medication for kids

It’s also a great idea to pack general medications for headaches, fever, cough, or even tummy upsets. Prepare your own travel first aid kit to assist with any minor injuries that could occur. Depending on your travel destination, bug spray and aloe vera are additional options for your travel first aid kit.

Read more: Cruise packing made easy in 10 simple steps

Paper and Pens

Communication is key if you are traveling with older children. They may be interested in the various kids clubs aboard the ship. If that’s the case, there will be times when your kids are not with you.

Be sure to take paper and pens or even a dry erase board. Everyone can leave messages for each other when dropping by the cabin. This is an easy way for older kids and parents to find each other when on separate schedules.


Toys and Card Games

Most cruise ships will have plenty of activities for kids of all ages. While they are attending kids events, there will be toys and games provided.

The kids won’t be in scheduled events all the time, so keeping them busy is essential. Try packing small toys, card games, and coloring books. These easy to pack items can keep your children occupied and they make great activities for evenings in the cabin.


Baby Wipes

Yes. Baby wipes need their own category.

Children of all ages and adults can find a place for baby wipes in their luggage. Baby wipes are essential for cleaning up simple messes, wiping dirty faces and hands, and for taking on shore excursions.

It’s a good idea to pack at least two packages of baby wipes for your cruise. More than likely, you will go through more baby wipes than you’d expect. Put a package in your beach bag and carry-on for easy access in any situation.


A Backpack for Each Child

Packing with a backpack for each child

Some children may find it exciting to carry their own backpack for the trip. This can create a level of independence and ownership, allowing them to keep up with their things throughout the cruise.  Their backpack can be in addition to their regular luggage containing their clothing, shoes, etc.

Assist your child in picking out items that they would like to have in their backpack. This might include books, games, small toys, an instant camera, or crafting supplies.

Consider our suggestions the next time you pack your child’s luggage for a cruise. You might want to create a list ahead of time and talk to them about what they want to take. Together, you will bond and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Related: 10 tips for planning the best sea day on a cruise


Final Thoughts

Packing for a cruise with kids can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. By following the tips above, you can ensure that your kids have everything they need to have a fun and safe vacation.

Here is some additional insight:

  • Don’t forget the fun factor. When packing for your kids, be sure to include some items that they will enjoy, such as toys, games, and books. This will help to keep them entertained during down times, such as on sea days or during long travel days.
  • Be flexible. Things don’t always go according to plan when traveling with kids, so it’s important to be flexible. Be prepared to adjust your itinerary or packing list as needed.
  • Have a backup plan. In case of lost luggage or unexpected delays, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan. This might include packing a few essential items in your carry-on bag, such as a change of clothes for each child, medications, and toiletries.

Most importantly, relax and enjoy your vacation! Cruising with kids can be a wonderful experience for the whole family, and you’re creating memories they will not soon forget.

Read more: 15 things people always forget to pack on a cruise

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Kristi Sellers
Kristi Sellers
Kristi took her first cruise when she was 12 years old and is currently planning her 20th. When she isn’t cruising, she loves to visit the Smoky Mountains. Kristi lives in Alabama with her husband and fur baby, Chico.
Cruise TipsPackingHow to Pack for Kids on a Cruise Without Going Overboard

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